Luiz Braga is a photographer living in Brazilian Amazonia. He created a photographic style inspired by local myths and legends. “Curupira” is a forest spirit and a powerful symbol for the protection of biodiversity that frequently appears in children books and magazines. Actually, in Brazil, there is a big debate about the issue of “environmental protection”. Many politicians are using “economic development” as an argument to justify deforestation in order to make space for intensive agriculture and the creation of livestock.
In the myths “Curupira” scares “evil” people that menace the forest and its animals, and protects “good” people, respectful towards the ecosystem. We might establish a connection between him and the “shaman”, responsible for protecting the community and mediating between native people and forest spirits.
Luiz Braga took this portrait in 2018 on the island of Marajo — PA. We might see the model in this photo as a representation of Curupira, because he has blond hair like fire and his skin color is very close to that of the forest, according to the myth. This photograph is a reminiscence of historical change and the big challenge to protect the Amazon forest and valorize the visuality of the stories that native people have treasured during many centuries.
Written by Alysson Camargo, edited by Yannis Papadopoulos.